Sunday, September 1, 2013

Daddy Cool

It’s Fathers’ Day here in Australia, and what better day to write about my dad, PapaK.

There are lots of things I could write about my dad. I could write, for instance, about how he sets the (very high) bar for all the men in my life.

About his limited grasp on pop culture, which, over the years, has lead to dad:
a) searching for Pearl Jam in the Spreads isle of Woolies;
b) summarising the Harry Potter books/films thusly - ‘the bad man put himself in the snake’;
c) asking for an ‘Ub (rhymes with Hub) four-oh’ CD and being told in no uncertain terms by the sales assistant that ‘actually it’s UB40, sir’.
d) responding to my excitement about Beyonce and Jay Z’s pregnancy by suggesting we could throw the baby shower at Chez Papa/MamaK – ‘we can fire up the BBQ and put the big table under the shady tree’ – not realising that Beyonce and Jay Z are: i) not people I actually know in real life, ii) mega famous, and, iii) probably not BBQ-and-a-big-table-under-the-shady-tree people.

(On that last point: I’ll admit my excitement was a little over involved and dad could be forgiven for thinking that Bey and Jay were close personal friends of mine).

About his endless texts, phone calls, and emails from overseas that make you fell like you’re right there with him – down to what he had for breakfast (cereal).

About how he can’t read maps. At all.

About the time in the early 1980s that he king hit Michael Hutchence, of INXS fame (believe).

About being sent to school with his instructions to Learn Three Things and Be Good.

About his complete inability to understand what’s going on in a film, or remember its title (‘it’s the one about the house – YOU KNOW’).

I could write about all of those things, and more. But today, I’m going to write about his excellent taste in massive, oversized, el cheapo sunnies from South East Asia.

My dad, like all good papas, brings home presents whenever he travels overseas. Along with duty free perfume, that special Jurlique hand cream MamaK and I love, undies from Marks and Spencers/Victoria’s Secret, and fancy tea and chocolates, you can bet your bottom dollar that somewhere in his luggage is a sunnies stash.

There’s nothing subtle about PapaK’s taste in sunnies. He’s a Leo: the only subtle Leos do is the meat axe variety. Any yet, he knows me well enough to pick the outlandish, oversized, embellished, ridiculous glasses that will stir something in my shy, retiring Piscean soul. He knows which shades will make me feel instantly fabulous - like Sophia Loren/Madonna/Farrah Fawcett/Dianna Ross/Jackie O - the moment I slip them on my face.

I’ve got a whole stack of shades on my dressing table, all chosen by PapaK. I wear them every day. And whenever the coffee guy, or the girl at the gym, compliments me on my awesome shades, it gives me great pride to say that:
a) they cost a grand total of $2 in a market somewhere in SEA; and
b) my cool dad chose them for me.

I’m one lucky girl to have a dad as cool as PapaK. Happy Father’s Day dad: thanks for the awesome shades, and for everything else.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Daggy Jumper Part-ay (and Bullshit, and Part-ay, and Bullshit…with apologies to Notorious BIG)

Winter is coming.

To our nation’s capital.

Now, you can, and should, cuddle up with some seasonally appropriate Game of Thrones, a hottie (hot water bottle and/or person – count your blessings if both), and a big old mug of tea/mulled wine/hot chocolate.

But, there is another strategy you can adopt to minimise seasonal chill. That strategy, my friends, is the Daggy Jumper Part-ay.

(In the context of Daggy Jumpers, the normal spelling of party just doesn’t carry enough cringe: a hyphen just has to happen here).

Hipsters have been All About The Daggy Jumper Part-ay for a fair while now. I remember, distinctly, my first encounter with a Hipster Daggy Jumper Part-ay member. This encounter was at an actual party (normal spelling), complete with all requisite winter-in-Canberra’s-Inner-North party activities, circa 2007: goon of fortune, people dancing in circles around piles of coats in a bare living room, representation from three different political parties (and factions within parties), and at least one emotional minidrama involving a love triangle and a certain young lady blowing her nose on someone else’s pashmina.

Yes, that was me. Soz.

During some post-tears circle dancing around coats, a fellow partygoer joined me in my interpretive dance moves to Architecture in Helskini’s ‘Places Like This’ (if you need a visual: imagine me waving of arms in the manner of a floaty willow tree, add in some Gumby legs). Said partygoer, otherwise unremarkable, was wearing a baggy grey handknit with an appliquéd koala bear on the front, chomping on a eucalyptus leaf (the appliquéd koala, not my wavy-arms-dance companion).

At the time, I called bullshit on his Daggy Jumper Part-ay, picked up my coat from the middle of the circle, and went outside to check out goon of fortune.

Now, six years and a whole lot of other parties after the fact, I’ve come around to the Daggy Jumper Part-ay. Big Time, as one of my boyfriends from the 2007 vintage (a good year) would say.

The trick to having a Daggy Jumper Part-ay, as opposed to just a Daggy Jumper, is to mix a bit of high culture with your low culture (hollah at me Adorno: Bourdieu, you, ain’t heavy, you my bro).

By this, I mean, choose a daggy jumper in luxe fibres: babysoft lambswool, buttery cashmere, so-fluffy-you-float angora, and a bit of lurex for doing the Fancy.

Sounds expensive, right? Wrong. Second hand stores are teeming with Daggy Jumper Part-ay specimens. Admittedly, you need some time on your hands and the guidance of your inner shopper intuition, but anybody with a couple of hours to spare on a Saturday can make good at their local Vinnies, Salvos or op-shop and come out with some Daggy Jumper Part-ay gold.

Just remember to check the fibre content label: you can usually tell by feel if you’re dealing with poly blend or something a bit more special, but it always pays to double check when you’re all about bigging up the luxe.

You can also ask your family and elderly friends if they have any Daggy Jumper Part-ays they can pass on to you, to keep the family’s stylin’ trads alive. Or, if a trip to Vinnies and Granny’s doesn’t turn up anything, pop into Country Road, they happen to be doing some very convincing vintage repros at the mo.

Once you get your Daggy Jumper Part-ay home, it pays to invest in some pre-wear prep. A gentle handwash will remove any lingering scent of dead people/menthol cigarettes/shop assistants/home brand sherry/naphthalene, and any suspicious stains that may have emanated from a previous owner’s body.

Handwashing using my chosen brand of laundry soap (Lux) also imparts a delicious scent that will make people want to cuddle you (huzzah for cuddles).

Again, check the fibre content label, but allow me to lay down the best way, by far, to handwash:

1) dissolve a small amount of Lux flakes in hot water, top up your bucket/sink/basin with cold water, and dunk your jumper thoroughly
2) watch an ep of Game of Thrones
3) empty the soapy water, refill your bucket/sink/basin with plain cold water
4) watch another ep of Game of Thrones
5) empty bucket onto pot plants/garden, pop your jumper into your washing machine, and run it through on a Rinse and Spin cycle
6) place on a flat surface to dry
7) watch eps of Game of Thrones until your Daggy Jumper Part-ay is dry

This last step is optional, but I highly recommend it: Peter Dinklage is a stone cold fox.

It’s absolutely pointless, in most cases, to try and achieve a slim, streamlined silhouette. Most Daggy Jumper Part-ays, especially if they’re vintage, are cut with comfort and warmth, rather than flattery, in mind. Consequentially, channel Notorious and embrace the B-I-G. Let your winter belly rolls luxuriate in the warm, non-judgemental embrace of your Daggy Jumper Part-ay.

You may wish to pair your Daggy Jumper Part-ay with a fitted jean and boots, to prove to the world at large that your form has shape. But, I don’t think the fitted jean is an essential for styling the Daggy Jumper Part-ay. Really, you could wear whatever you want on your bottom half (except shorts, because they’re weird, even more so in a Canberra winter).

Basically, no-one is going to notice what’s going on south of your belly button: they’re going to be too excited by your amazing jumper, and wondering why they’re experiencing the urge to cuddle (that’s the power of Lux).

One further word to the wise: if you have a penchant for black fluffy Daggy Jumper Part-ays, like I do, be aware of the lint issue. It tends to gather in places that will shock you when you look in the mirror (underarms, backs, and belly buttons, oh my). It can be quite confronting, more so if you were de-Daggy Jumper Part-ay-ing in front of some lucky guy or girl (I’d imagine).

You can solve this issue by wearing a tee shirt underneath, but if that idea doesn’t appeal, consider yourself forewarned and forearmed about the armpit lint, and make sure you do a quick lint check pre boudoir.

Now, go forth, and Daggy Jumper Part-ay, because winter is coming.

Saturday, May 11, 2013


Thunder only happens when it’s raining. Players only love you when they’re playing. So sang Stevie Niks in her (epic) ballad, ‘Dreams’.

As a person who dreams every night – and remembers at least one dream 9 out of 10 mornings - I’d like to know if there’s any truth to Niks’ assertion that one thing points to another, deeper thing.

Some of my dreams are immediately interpretable, and about as subtle as a meat axe. Dreaming, for instance, about having to finish my PhD, in three days, on a vintage typewriter with no paper, pretty clearly points to a subconscious that is wigging out about the impending submission of my thesis (could also indicate a warning about hipsters, hence the vintage typewriter). Other things I dream about are completely mundane: going grocery shopping, working out at the gym, catching buses, cleaning my apartment. Yawn.

But then sometimes - actually, more than sometimes, about once every couple of weeks - my subconscious throws me a curve ball, and I can’t make top nor tail of my dream.

The dreams which feature celebrities, in particular, often leave me particularly befuddled upon waking.

And so, unlike Niks, who, according to the song, keeps her visions to herself, I’m sharing my most memorable, and befuddling, celebrity dreams. For your interpretational pleasure.

Dream #1. St Kim Kardashian

Kim Kardashian started a grassroots program teaching underprivileged and differently abled children to read using Kindles. She was assassinated for her efforts by being sliced in half. Her body was displayed in a glass cabinet and toured around the world. A campaign was started to have Kim Kardashian canonised. Kim Kardashian was made a saint, and high schools were named in her honour. St Kim Academy, Kardashian High, etc.

Dream #2. Leonardo Di Caprio’s BFF

Leonardo Di Caprio and I were BFFs. We did everything together. It was the 50s, I was rocking an impossibly chic wardrobe. Leonardo Di Caprio wanted to experiment with a quiff. I advised against.

Dream #3. The Wilson Brothers

Owen Wilson. Luke Wilson. Tom Wilson. Yes.

Dream #4. Turning down Alexander Skarsgard

Alexander Skarsgard and I were totally into each other. I get naked. Alexander Skarsgard gets naked. I regretfully inform him that we can no longer go ahead as planned because he has no chest hair. Alexander Sharsgard is disappointed. We hug and become BFFs.

Dream #5. Julia Gillard and the ALP do The Hunger Games

Julia Gillard requested my presence on an elite tiger team to workshop youth policy. Julia Gillard and senior ALP faceless men are super nice. Julia Gillard and I have a chat about hair colour (natural vs artificial – I’m natural, she’s artificial) in the kitchenette. The tiger team take a field trip to Italy, to offices located in the base of the Coliseum. I take a wrong turn trying to get back to our meeting rooms after a loo break (NB: this element of the dream is entirely realistic and happens to me all the time in waking life). Stumble upon a secret room with profiles of youth leaders that the ALP has forced to fight to the death, hunger games style. Realise the tiger team is a front to obscure the true nature of the ALP’s youth policy (fight to the death). Return to the meeting room to confront Julia Gillard and the faceless men. Open the door to realise they know my secret.

Wake up before a satisfactory resolution is achieved.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Onesie (with apologies to Hamlet)

This weekend, in amongst autumn cleaning my apartment (spring cleaning: so passé), entertaining friends, getting back to the gym after injury, and catching a film with MamaK, I’ve been battling a great dilemma:

To Onesie, or not to Onesie?

That is the question.

I am not referring, dear readers, to one piece cossie. Nor am I referring to jumpsuits. There’s no dilemma in my mind when it comes to cozzies and jumpsuits: I like cozzies and jumpsuits. I have time for cozzies and jumpsuits. I’ve very successfully owned multiples of both (believe).

What I am questioning, with the existential seriousness of Shakespeare’s Danish Prince, is the one piece loungewear suit, comprising of a hooded top attached to a pair of legs, made of polar fleece, with a zip fastening.

As a typical Type A personality, I’m working my way through my onesie dilemma not via a dramatic monologue, but by a list of points for, and against, the onesie.

(If Hamlet had been a Type A, he could have written a handy list too. It might have made all the difference).

To Onesie

• Warm.
• Warm.
• Warm.
• Warm.
• Warm.
• Cozy.
• Cozy.
• Cozy.
• Cozy.
• Cozy.
• Onesies are warm, and they are cozy. It is possible to layer up against the Canberra chill, but there will always be little bits of you – ankles, the juncture of skivvies and leggings – vulnerable to sneaky chills (just quietly, I have a suspicion Hamlet would have found this aspect of a onesie appealing. That castle must have been some sort of draughty).
• Grown adults wearing - essentially - a babygro is hilarious, something which the lovely Miranda Hart has exploited (google Miranda Hart + Onesie Direction if you need proof). I have sufficient self awareness of my hipster tendencies to ironically enjoy this.
• You can get them in tiger print. And leopard print. And the union jack, and…

Not to Onesie

• Slippery slope: I already go more places than I should in gym leggings and baggy tee shirts. Crop top bras (comfy) have become a mainstay of my working wardrobe, even though I promised myself, at point of purchase, they were For Home Use Only (or FHUO, hollah at my APS BroDudes and SoulSistas down with document classifications). I wear slippers to the local shops to buy milk. If I get a onesie, it’s only a matter of time before I’m wearing it to the office on casual Friday – and then I’ll be Onesie Girl. Basically, my relationship with comfortable clothing is like Pandora’s Box: once opened, there's no going back.
• Onesies are sexless. I suspect that being a onesie girl means that I’d condemn myself to a lifetime of being a onesie girl in relation to other sorts of onesies. If you take my meaning.
• Everyone’s doing the onesie thing. Onesies are huge. Onesies are massive. I have sufficient self awareness of my hipster tendencies to sneer at this.
• I’m already tall, with a long body, and ample frontage. Which makes buying one piece anythings (swimmers, leotards, wonder woman outfits etc) tricky. A onesie would magnify this problem, and would, no doubt, result in wedgies. Back, and front.

I don’t yet know whether it is nobler, stylistically, to suffer the slings and arrows of Canberra’s outrageous weather. Or, to onesie – to warm, and, perchance, to cozy on through winter.

Aye, there’s the rub, alright.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Vintage Kicks

Turning 26 is a wonderous thing.

OK, OK, the Wrinkle of Incredulity on my forehead is deepening; I’ve got some fine lines growing around my eyes. My knees make that wet-cardboard creaky sound, and I’m doing lots more ‘reflective listening’ at noisy pubs, clubs and house parties. Not because I’ve become mature and wise and patient, but because I can’t actually hear what’s being said (years of earphone abuse), so I settle for ‘mm hmms’, ‘oh’s’ and what I hope is a thoughtful expression.

But back to what’s wonderous about being 26.

Being 26 means that I’ve been an Adult Woman, physiologically at least, for ten years, and have a wardrobe that is well established enough that I can pull together pieces that are, to borrow Maggie Alderson’s term, ‘Vintage Me’.

‘Vintage Me’ means clothes and accessories you’ve had for many a moon. ‘Vintage Me’, in my book, carries the ultimate styling cred. Why? Well, not only were you spectacularly chic, you are, still, spectacularly chic, AND had the foresight to keep great pieces even when they weren’t trending.

Basically, ‘Vintage Me’ = Swag + +

Particularly when the ‘Vintage me’ piece has swag already. Enter my two pairs of Doc Martin Kicks.

I bought my kicks when I started college (year 11 and 12, to all you non-ACT peeps). My college didn’t have a uniform, and, as such, 2003 was a great year for me, stylistically. My crew were rolling an early 90s look (and our own cigarettes) long before it was cool to do so.

(Insert your favorite hipster insult here)

My first pair of kicks – the classic Doc Martin boot, in an abstract black and white printed leather, purchased at Redpaths in Garema Place – were a momentous purchase, my first steps into the grungy look that would see me wear corsets, crochet cardigans, and torn, graffiti'd jeans to school.

Those kicks, along with the cherry red pair my parents bought me for Christmas, were my footwear of choice through 2003 and 2004, and well into my first year at uni. During the middle of my degree, my look took a turn towards the ladylike: my kicks were replaced by the highest of heels (my favorites: pale blue crushed velvet, gold trim, channeling Marie Antoinette). Moving out of home into cold, draughty houses and flats, I grew to love knee high boots, in all their manifestations: flat, heeled, elasticated, zippered.

Now, as a Young Professional (worst term ever – blergh) I’ve come to appreciate a Sensible Pump and Ballet Flat on a 9-5, Monday to Friday basis. But on my weekends, I’m all about putting the Sensible Pumps and Ballet Flats on one side, embracing my inner rebel and kicking it to the man - at least until 8am on Monday.

And there’s no better shoe for kicking it to the man than kicks. Particularly when said kicks are ten years old, and still kicking on.

Sunday, April 21, 2013


‘It’s just like riding a bike’, people say, when they mean that skills, once acquired, are never really lost.

For some, though, riding a bike is NOT ‘just like riding a bike’. Specifically, me.

I rode a lot as a kid: even had the requisite hot pink girls’ bike (with streamers on the handlebars: oh my). I remember coming off my bike many a time, and getting straight back on, grazed shins and all.

This changed when I was eight, and came off my bike so spectacularly that I decided bikes just weren’t for me.

It all started when I was visiting my grandparents, and had been allowed to go riding with a couple of older girls from the neighborhood.

To an eight year old girl in the 90s, twelve year olds were the absolute height of sophistication, glamor and coolness. This was before celebrity culture had really grown claws, so I, and my similarly aged friends, idolised our older neighbors/cousins/sisters like young girls today idolise the Kardashians.

Except, we aspired to our neighbours/cousins/sister’s super sleek high pony tails and scrunch socks (please tell me you remember scrunch socks), rather than Kim, Khloe and Kourtney’s questionable life choices involving videotape and diet pills.

Anyroadup, twelve year old sophisticates didn’t wear helmets, on account of their super high ponytails. So, I wasn’t either, because safety isn’t as important as a high, shiny, swooshy ponytail and being part of the cool peloton.

And, if the twelve year old cool girls were freewheeling down a big hill, I was coming along for the ride - even though the breaks on the bike I’d borrowed didn’t feel like they were working properly.

I think you can guess what happened next: my breaks failed, I crashed into a coppers’ log fence, knocked myself out, gave the twelve year old girls the fright of their lives (I should say here that underneath the cool they were actually really sweet and helped me limp home), and scored a graze on my chin that looked uncannily like a beard.

Looking back on it now, I can see that the universe was trying to teach me a valuable lesson: that suppressing my better judgement for the sake of being cool only leads to disaster (I mean, scrunch socks? Really?).

What I took away from the accident, though, was that Bikes Are Not Fun and I Will Never Ride Again.

But, eighteen years later, under the kindest and most watchful eyes of Zsuzanah Verona, I had another go at riding a bike, helmet firmly on and breaks thoroughly tested. I’ve gotten better at listening to what the universe is trying to teach me as I’ve got older. And what I learned yesterday was that:
• with a bit of help, and some gentle reminders to look ahead rather than down at my feet, that riding a bike actually is…just like riding a bike;
• riding a bike is just about the best fun ever;
• I don’t need to be part of a cool peloton when I’ve got a BFF like Zsuzannah; and, lastly
• a low chignon is really more sophisticated and helmet friendly than a high ponytail.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Sydney, I’m Yours

a) Wide leg chiffon pants are not a good look on me;
b) Silk Herringbone blouses (from the sneakily hidden outlet store in Surry Hills) are;
c) Ruth Park street sign spotting fills me with excitement;
d) Iku lunches restore the soul;
e) Tear up one rainbow on Oxford St and a thousand others will grow in its place;
f) Anna Thomas designs the most beautiful women's wear imaginable;
g) Ibises’ beaks have evolved superior garbage-rifling, pond-scum-diving, and Peggy-frightening skillz;
h) Sydney heat is bad hair heat;
i) A coconut water and watching not one, but two, hideous weddings in the park at dusk makes point F OK;
j) The Hyde Park bubble man’s bubbles burst the exact moment I get my phone out to instagram them;
k) All day parking in the middle of Sydney is cheaper than all day parking in the middle of Canberra (believe);
l) Traffic jams and navigating Sydney streets are absolutely fine so long as I’ve got Zsuzannah Verona (Scotty to my Kirk);
m) It’s possible to eat rice pudding while driving if you really put your mind to it.

To paraphrase The Decemberists on Los Angeles:

Sydney, I’m yours.